Dreamer

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Chapter 22

Friday, March 16th, 2029

JOHN

All is black, everything is silent. I wonder how long I’ve been like this, but I wouldn’t doubt that it’s longer than a few hours. It could be easily just a few minutes. Everything is so confusing and uncertain. A low hum penetrates the dark void, it sounds like a machine powering on.

Just then, my eyes open slowly. My head and just about everything else aches. I realize then I’m once again constricted by something. I look at my wrists and ankles and see that they’re bound by very thick rope and I’m being latched to some sort of bench. It stands perpendicular to the floor, so at least I’m upright.

All around me is white. It is like the room I’d been in previously, maybe I’m even in the same room. I can’t differentiate the walls from each-other, maybe there aren’t even any other ones. Everything is just white. The area below me is a perfect match to the walls. Maybe I’m on my side and I’m actually looking at the floor? The thought is plausible, but then I realize different when my eyes focus on a man standing in front of me. I hadn’t noticed him prior because he is also clad in all white. He looks to be in his mid-forties.

“Hey! You! Where am I?” I ask, immediately regretting it. My voice cuts my throat as it echoes out.

The man shifts uneasily in place. I see his face is neatly shaven and his hair is kept short and tidy. His face looks like one of grief and turmoil. “Can you hear me? Hello?” I ask, coughing.

The man shakes his head, as if he’s just now hearing me.

“Oh, y-you’re awake.”

“Who are you?” I ask.

“Barry Rainwater,” he says timidly.

“Okay, Barry. What ar-”

“The lord Reinhardt is the most dangerous thing in this universe.”

“What?”

“This Radical-9 junk isn’t anything compared to the sheer force that is the lord. I wish we could have met under better circumstances.”

“What’s Radical-” I begin, but I’m interrupted by a resounding pain in my wrists and ankles. It spreads all throughout my body and I recognize it as electricity. I’m being electrocuted. It lasts for about ten seconds, but it feels like twenty, easily. It finally stops and I drop my head, breathing heavily.

“What the hell is with that?” I ask and I notice a bit of drool is hanging from my mouth.

“Th-This...is for the lord. He...he told me that he needs to weaken your physical resistance. After the physical testing is the psychological testing and then finally the chemical testing. He needs me to break you to your last legs so you can be strong enough for him,” Barry says.

“You seem extra talkative for someone working here. What do you think happens to you when he comes through me? Do you think that you’re going to be left alive?” I ask. I’m met with another electrical shock. I scream out loud this time.

“The lord has promised…” Barry says.

“You said it yourself…” I say.

“What?”

Barry’s hand loses contact with the button. My body is free from the voltage for another moment more.

“You...said that Reinhardt is the most dangerous thing in the universe. Do you think he’s likely to keep his promise to a mere slave like you? That’s all you are to him, a slave and free work force!” I say.

“NO!” He yells and smashes his finger down on the button. I can feel every particle of energy coursing through my veins and it all hurts in one big instance of pain. My screams are amplified by the extra energy I’m being forced to juggle. I feel like this is the end, but in another instant I feel the pain subside.

The next thing I know I’m falling to the ground below, I’m breathing heavier than I ever have and I look up at Barry. He’s sweating profusely and he’s smashed the remote he’d been holding under his foot. It’s been grazed into a million little pieces.

“Y-You broke it,” I say.

“You need to get out of here,” he says.

“T-Thank you,” I say.

“There isn’t any time for that. I…I need you to get out of here,” he says.

“What are you doing here, anyway, if you’re so afraid of Reinhardt?” I mutter.

“I’m scared of him. I’m scared of what he’s done, what he will do. He…that monster of his…”

“The monster?” I ask. I struggle to get to my feet, I think the electricity had numbed my muscles. I can’t move.

“Can I get a little help here? I can’t move,” I say.

“Surely you’ve seen him? The monster named Micah,” he says. He runs over and picks me up, he sprawls me over his shoulder and turns his head towards mine. I can see his eyes are bugging out and his breath smells of rotting fish.

“I saw him a few weeks ago. He was sent by him. He killed my entire family and swore me to Reinhardt, or he’d do the same to me. That’s when I met him and I saw him. He told me not to tell, but he was scared.”

“Scared?”

“He was scared of you, of the Dreamer,” Barry says.

“Why would he be afraid of me?”

“He didn’t say directly, but it sort of spilled out. I don’t think he has full control over his own power and sometimes it leaks out.”

Leaks out? Is that how I saw the vision of Andy and Gavin?

Barry begins trekking behind the bench I’d been attached to. I see a slit of a door out of the corner of my eye and then he does something I cannot see. The doors open and he begins running down the long hallway. I see it is pure white just like the room we’d been in.

“Is this whole place decorated like this?” I ask.

“It gets kind of disorientating at times,” he says, not really answering my question.

“Well, maybe you should slow your pace and enjoy the scenery for a while,” a familiar voice calls out.

Barry turns around and instantly becomes flabbergasted.

“Why, what is going on here?” Micah asks, the devilish grin plastered on his mask is wide enough to give anybody nightmares.

“Micah it doesn’t-”

“Hush! I would kindly not any interruptions while I’m speaking, Mr...Harry?”

“Barry, sir.”

“Ah! Yes, Jerry. Now, why are you taking Sir Jonathan away from his testing chambers?” Micah asks.

“Um, he needed to use the facilities,” he blurts out.

“Oh, yes. I see, we must serve the needs of our people!” Micah says, lifting his finger into the air.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll escort our guest to the facilities. You can go on your break,” Micah says.

“N-No, it’s really fine. I can handle it,” Barry says.

“Oh, no, I insist! You should really go and get a nice coffee in the break room, relax your nerves...unless it is of course you don’t think I’m capable for the job?” Micah asks, feigning a hurt look.

“N-No, that isn’t it at all, Mr. Micah!”

“I think it is and I’m deeply...deeply offended,” his voice changes from a pseudo-giddy one into pure malice.

“Just stop! You’re a fucking bully who hides behind his masks!” I call out. I don’t know why I did, but I did. I yelled it out, but I didn’t want to, it must be Reinhardt again.

Micah turns his head slightly so he’s looking at me. “Oh, so those electric shocks didn’t completely nullify all of your motor functions. That’s delectable news. You’re much more persistent than I’d originally believed,” he says.

Barry begins to slowly back away. In an instant, I see Micah close the distance between us and the weirdest thing happens. I see the mask fall to the ground and a familiar face hides behind it. His dirty blonde hair reaches just past his neck and his two eyes seem to pervade throughout all else, but that’s only because I’ve seen it once before.

His left eye is a light blue while his right is the same hazel. His slender jaw line and short, stout nose come to me all in a flash.

It looks just like Gavin. I only saw him that one time in the courthouse, but I’m sure of it, only…his hair is much longer here. What the hell is he doing here? Was I out for longer than I thought?

There is a hushed silence and Micah laughs. In a moment he raises his right hand, but it isn’t a hand anymore, it’s more like a claw. He thrusts his right hand right into Barry’s torso. I hear it puncture and his eyes go wide. I look down to Micah’s free hand and I see it too has transfigured into a feral claw, jagged and sharp. The transformation carries onto the rest of his body and he begins shifting as a whole. He’s glowing like goo and then it takes shape. Hair begins forming all over his body, he begins hunching downward into a quadruped stance. Micah takes upon a completely wild look.

Micah takes his free hand...claw and he rips it right into Barry’s face and it rips off like a sheet of paper in an old notebook. His body falls limp, only being supported by Micah’s other claw that has pierced his body. His head bobs forward and the blood behind what was his face just drains to the floor. The muscles in his arms go limp and I fall to the ground and hit pretty hard. I’m facing them when I fall.

Micah half-howls, half laughs, his face changing and his jack-o-lantern grin growing larger. He shakes his face off of his claw like it were table scraps. He then thrusts his left claw into Barry’s torso alongside his right one. In one fell move I hear the sound of flesh tearing and ripping. The blood from his body is emptied onto the floor as Micah rips the man into two unequal sacks of flesh and broken bone. I’m too scared to move and I’m sure I couldn’t even if I’d wanted to. Micah tosses the two halves of what used to be Barry Rainwater to the side, blood flying in the air and several of his internal organs falling and squishing to the ground.

“You...don’t kill to eat?” I ask.

Micah turns his disfigured snout towards me. I can see his eyes pulsating in their sockets, glowing and full of violence. “That’s much too messy for my liking,” Micah half roars, his voice guttural.

I look from him to Barry’s carcass.

“You’re saying you don’t like it messy, but then what is all of that?”

Micah turns to look at the tie-dye of blood and organs strewn about the floor, he grins. “I never said I didn’t enjoy making a mess of killing. I just don’t like it when it’s with my food.”

He kills simply because he enjoys it.

“So...what now? Are you just going to rip me apart also?” I ask.

“As much as I’d love to sink my claws into your abdomen and turn you into a flurry of fleshed confetti…now wouldn’t be the right time.”

“Is he the one who made you this way? What happened to you Gavin? What even are you?” I ask.

Micah smiles, baring his jagged teeth, they look like shark’s teeth, sharpened to several points. “That name is no longer associated with me. You’re thinking of the half-wit I was who still thinks he can make a difference,” he laughs.

“I don’t understand,” I say.

“I assure you, I was much like you at one point, but as a reward for my diligence I’ve been given…a raise. An extra burst of Radical-9,” Micah says, slowly.

“That’s the second time since I’ve woken up since I’ve heard that term, what is it?” I ask.

Micah laughs and walks over to me. “It’s what puts me on the winning team, shithead.” He picks me up and hoists me over his shoulder.

“Wh-where are we going now?” I ask.

“Why, we’re going to take a little visit so you can meet the half-man of the hour,” Micah says. Before I can even answer, Micah has taken off, carrying me along with him. I can see the carcass of Barry fade away in the distance. Now I’m headed to meet the man who has been haunting my dreams.

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